The Margaret Wade Labarge Prize


Any book in the field of medieval studies (including monographs, editions, translations, and other categories as determined by the Prize Committee), authored or co-authored, translated or co-translated, edited or co-edited, etc. (the test being at least 50% participation) by a Canadian or someone resident in Canada. Edited collections of essays are not eligible.

Submissions for the 2017 Labarge Prize (books published in 2016) / Les soumissions pour le Prix Labarge de 2017 (livres publiés en 2016):

3 copies of eligible books should be sent to the snail mail address / 3 exemplaires de livres admissibles doivent être envoyées à l'adresse de courrier:

Dr. Kenna Olsen
Department of English
Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
T3E 6K6
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


2016 ~ Fiona Somerset, Feeling Like Saints: Lollard Writings after Wyclif. Cornell UP, 2014.

Fiona Somerset’s book's importance in developing the MS basis for its field, and that field's contribution to late-medieval religious and social history, is undoubted. The sheer wealth of sources which provide evidence of diverse lollard teachings on living a virtuous life, stories, saints, praying, and "feeling," revise previous assumptions about lollards and provide a more nuanced perspective than ever before. It is a significant piece of scholarship, looking at a wide range of manuscript sources and challenging the assumptions of the whole field of Lollard scholarship. . . . Whether or not Somerset is correct in her readings of sources she classifies as Lollard, her work will be one that future scholars have to ‘answer’ if they are going to look at any of these writings.

2015 ~ Richard C. Hoffman, An Environmental History of Medieval Europe. Cambridge UP, 2014.

2014  ~ Frank Klassen, The Transformation of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013.

Klaassen’s elegantly written monograph is an incisive analysis of an understudied body of evidence. His argument that two types of “illicit learned magic” characterized the period between 1300 and 1600 brings coherence and clarity to an intellectual tradition that has too often been overlooked. By locating magical texts within broad theological, philosophical, and scholarly traditions and by emphasizing the continuities between medieval ritual magic and Renaissance texts, Klaassen challenges his readers to see medieval and Renaissance intellectual culture in new ways. His work thus not only makes a valuable contribution to the history of magic in the premodern era, but it also participates in conversations about the periodization of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. His study stood out in a year in which there were several strong contenders for the Labarge prize.


2013 ~ James Grier, Ademari Cabannensis, Opera Liturgica et Poetica: Musica cum Textibus. Brepols, 2012.  

The committee unanimously agreed that Grier’s monumental two-volume critical edition of the works of the eleventh century monk Adémar of Chabannes was a scholarly achievement of the highest order. Many of the musical texts transcribed here have not previously appeared in modern editions. Committee members praised the meticulous scholarship evident in the introduction and the transcriptions, and they noted the similarly high quality of the philological work. They also drew attention to the elegance and clarity of the written presentation. The committee believes that this work not only makes a significant contributionas  to medieval musicology, but that those contributions will be of lasting scholarly value. 


2012 ~ Rachel Koopmans, Wonderful to Relate: Miracle Stories and Miracle Collecting in High Medieval England. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. 

Koopmans surveys more than seventy-five collections and offers a new model for understanding how miracle stories were generated, circulated, and replicated. She argues that orally exchanged narratives carried far more propagandistic power than those preserved in manuscripts; stresses the literary and memorial roles of miracle collecting; and traces changes in form and content as the focus of the collectors shifted from the stories told by religious colleagues to those told by lay visitors to their churches. 

Wonderful to Relate highlights the importance of the two massive collections written by Benedict of Peterborough and William of Canterbury in the wake of the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170. Koopmans provides the first in-depth examination of the creation and influence of the Becket compilations, often deemed the greatest of all medieval miracle collections. In a final section, she ponders the decline of miracle collecting in the thirteenth century, which occurred with the advent of formalized canonization procedures and theological means of engaging with the miraculous.


2011 ~ Frank Mantello and Joseph Goering, Letters of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln. University of Toronto Press, 2010.

Robert Grosseteste (c.1170-1253) was an English statesman, philosopher, theologian, and bishop of Lincoln, and also one of the most controversial figures in his country's episcopate. His long life coincided with the central period of institutional, intellectual, and religious consolidation in medieval Europe and his letters provide important insights into the practices and preoccupations of the English clergy and laity in the first half of the thirteenth century.

This volume contains the first complete translation of Grosseteste's collected Latin letters and shows that these were most likely chosen and arranged by Grosseteste himself. Shedding light on some of the period's crucial debates on issues of theology, law, pastoral care, and episcopal authority, Frank Mantello and Joseph Goering's richly annotated English translation makes his letters more accessible than ever for scholars and students, and for those interested in medieval history, religion, and culture.


2010  ~ Anne Dunlop, Painted Palaces: The Rise of Secular Art in Early Renaissance Italy. Penn. State Press, 2009.

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The emergence of modern Western artwork is sometimes cast as a slow process of secularization, with the devotional charge of images giving way in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to a focus on the beauty and innovation of the artwork itself. Our understanding of art in this pivotal age is badly distorted, focused almost exclusively on religious and civic images. Even many Renaissance specialists believe that little secular painting survives before the late fifteenth century, and its appearance becomes a further argument for the secularizing of art.

This book asks how history changes when a longer record of secular art is explored. It is the first study in any language of the decoration of Italian palaces and homes between 1300 and the mid-Quattrocento, and it argues that early secular painting was crucial to the development of modern ideas of art. Of the cycles discussed, some have been studied and published, but most are essentially unknown. A first aim is to enrich understanding of the early Renaissance by introducing a whole corpus of secular painting that has been too long overlooked. Yet Painted Palaces is not a study of iconography. In examining the prehistory of painted rooms like Mantegna s Camera Picta, the larger goal is to rethink the history of early Renaissance art.

2009 ~  Siân Echard Printing the Middle Ages. U of Pennsylvania P, 2008.

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In Printing the Middle Ages Siân Echard looks to the postmedieval, postmanuscript lives of medieval texts, seeking to understand the lasting impact on both the popular and the scholarly imaginations of the physical objects that transmitted the Middle Ages to the English-speaking world. Beneath and behind the foundational works of recovery that established the canon of medieval literature, she argues, was a vast terrain of books, scholarly or popular, grubby or beautiful, widely disseminated or privately printed. By turning to these, we are able to chart the differing reception histories of the literary texts of the British Middle Ages. For Echard, any reading of a medieval text, whether past or present, amateur or academic, floats on the surface of a complex sea of expectations and desires made up of the books that mediate those readings.

Each chapter of Printing the Middle Ages focuses on a central textual object and tells its story in order to reveal the history of its reception and transmission. Moving from the first age of print into the early twenty-first century, Echard examines the special fonts created in the Elizabethan period to reproduce Old English, the hand-drawn facsimiles of the nineteenth century, and today's experiments with the digital reproduction of medieval objects; she explores the illustrations in eighteenth-century versions of Guy of Warwick and Bevis of Hampton; she discusses nineteenth-century children's versions of the Canterbury Tales and the aristocratic transmission history of John Gower's Confessio Amantis; and she touches on fine press printings of Dante, Froissart, and Langland.


2008 ~ Fiona J. Griffiths The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century. U of Pennsylvania P, 2007. 

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In The Garden of Delights, Griffiths offers the first major study of the Hortus deliciarum, a magnificently illuminated manuscript of theology, biblical history, and canon law written both by and explicitly for women at the end of the twelfth century. In so doing she provides a brilliantly persuasive new reading of female monastic culture. Through careful analysis of the contents, structure, and organization of the Hortus, Griffiths argues for women's profound engagement with the spiritual and intellectual vitality of the period on a level previously thought unimaginable, overturning the assumption that women were largely excluded from the "renaissance" and "reform" of this period. As a work of scholarship that drew from a wide range of sources, both monastic and scholastic, the Hortus provides a witness to the richness of women's reading practices within the cloister, demonstrating that it was possible, even late into the twelfth century, for communities of religious women to pursue an educational program that rivaled that available to men. At the same time, the manuscript's reformist agenda reveals how women engaged the pressing spiritual questions of the day, even going so far as to criticize priests and other churchmen who fell short of their reformist ideals. Through her wide-ranging examination of the texts and images of the Hortus, their sources, composition, and function, Griffiths offers an integrated understanding of the whole manuscript, one which highlights women's Latin learning and orthodox spirituality. The Garden of Delights contributes to some of the most urgent questions concerning medieval religious women, the interplay of gender, spirituality, and intellectual engagement, to discussions concerning women scribes and writers, women readers, female authorship and authority, and the visual culture of female communities. It will be of interest to art historians, scholars of women's and gender studies, historians of medieval religion, education, and theology, and literary scholars studying questions of female authorship and models of women's reading.


2007 ~ No Prize Awarded


2006  ~ Cynthia Neville, Native Lordship in Medieval Scotland: The Earltoms of Strathearn and Lennox, c. 1140-1365. Four Courts Press, 2005.

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In the century or so after 1125 significant numbers of Anglo-Norman and European noblemen settled in Scotland at the invitation of the crown, chiefly in the lowlands. North of the Forth, however, lay large provincial lordships ruled on behalf of the king by hereditary lords known as ‘mormaers’. Even after the arrival of the newcomers, the native rulers of this area, Gaelic speakers for the most part, remained a small, powerful, and largely independent group. Using the lordships of Strathearn and Lennox as focal points, this book explores the complex nature of the encounter between the cultures of the Gaels and the Europeans, and shows how important were native customs and practices in the making of the later medieval kingdom.


2005  ~  Paul Dutton, Charlemagne's Mustache and Other Cultural Clusters of a Dark Age. Palgrave MacMillan, 2004.

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Charlemagne's Mustache and Other Cultural Clusters of a Dark Age presents the reader with seven engaging studies of cultural life and thought in the Carolingian world: Why did Charlemagne have a mustache and why did hair matter? Why did the king own peacocks and other exotic animals? Why was he writing in bed and could he write at all? How did medieval kings become stars? How were secrets kept and conveyed in the early Middle Ages? Does the world age with the aged? And why did early medieval peoples believe in storm- and hailmakers? The answers, Dutton finds, are often surprising.